Herman Lamb, 94, once more rode a Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum (TVRM) locomotive on Thursday, 50 years after he helped found the museum.
Mr. Lamb, now a resident of St. Barnabas, was welcomed by a TVRM greeting committee to the museum he helped to create in 1961. He rode the 10:40 a.m. Missionary Ridge local train, a 55-minute round trip.
Mr. Lamb was thrilled with the opportunity to re-visit the place where he spent so many volunteer hours, an opportunity made possible by TVRM and the St. Barnabas DreamMaker program.
“I wanted to see how the museum is progressing,” said Mr. Lamb, who last visited TVRM two years ago. “It makes me glad that something we started so long ago is doing so well and being enjoyed by so many people.”
Jennifer Ennis, TVRM group coordinator, arranged to have some of Mr. Lamb’s former associates on hand to greet him, both at the museum and at the end point, the East Chattanooga station.
“We had a lot of people who couldn’t wait to see him,” she said.
Mr. Lamb’s fascination with the railroad came early – his father had been a freight clerk with Southern Railway and took his family on train trips every year until the Great Depression. In 1959 Mr. Lamb and his wife, Dorothy, became involved with “The Mountain Goat Special,” a railroad excursion from Chattanooga to Tracy City. Sometime later, a group of local railway enthusiasts met to formally organize a local chapter of the national Railway Historical Society, electing Mr. Lamb as director. The chapter developed the venture as the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum with excursions to Atlanta, Knoxville, Birmingham, and throughout the state.
Mr. Lamb promoted the TVRM at every opportunity. He and Mrs. Lamb sold tickets for the rail trips, with himself as conductor and his wife working the dining car. Mr. Lamb’s position as director of the Railway Historical Society’s local chapter also meant exciting trips to New York, Denver, Chicago, and Atlanta.
“On a train you have time to enjoy the trip,” said Mr. Lamb. “And you see some beautiful country.”
The fulfillment of Mr. Lamb’s wish was made possible through St. Barnabas’s Dream Makers program and the generosity of community partners, in this case, TVRM. DreamMakers, similar to the “Make-a-Wish” program for children, has as its mission to “fulfill the dormant wishes of our residents to the best of our ability,” according to St. Barnabas Quality of Life Program Director Carrie Ezell.
Since its beginning in January, the St. Barnabas DreamMakers program has fulfilled the wishes of five residents.